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Beyond the Bale : September 2019
ON FARM 31 SANDRA'S TIPS: HOW THE HAY INC COURSE GOT STARTED 1. Firstly we established a committee – every town has people who are passionate about where they live – they won’t be hard to find and a committee allows you to establish a governance mechanism for clear communication, organise engagement and to get things done. 2. Then we established a not-for- profit incorporated group, bank account, goals and explored funding options. 3. We established a curriculum that suited our region/rural industry. The model can also focus on specific industries such as livestock or cropping. 4. We found experienced landholders or local businesses who were the key to our success. They donated their valuable passion, time and facilities to teach the students. 5. We created a marketing campaign to engage and to get the message out. It can be as simple as setting up a Facebook page or getting local media coverage. 6. Then we were able to start recruiting students to the program. Sheep classing being taught by AWI’s Stuart Hodgson and Hay Inc Chairman Chris Bowman to the young people on this year’s Hay Inc Rural Education Program in June. FARMING WOMEN GET ON BOARD More women should be encouraged to ‘take their seat at the business table of the family farm’ where they can contribute to the running and direction of the business, says farmer and rural women advocate Ellen Downes. “F arming families remain the predominant business model within Australian agriculture. Our rural communities depend upon viable and thriving family farms to ensure survival. However, the women of the family business – the wives and daughters – are often underrepresented in the business’s decision making, despite having a lot to offer,” says Ellen Downes, a finalist in the 2019 NSW- ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award. “I believe that in order to promote the role of women in agriculture whilst also enhancing the success of farming family businesses we need to ensure incorporation of all farm members in business discussions.” Ellen Downes and her husband Stuart McDonald run a Merino, cropping and cattle operation on 1,360 hectares near Canowindra in the central west of NSW. Their participation for more than 12 years in the Ag EDGE farm business program was featured in the March edition of Beyond the Bale. Ag EDGE is a not-for-profit group made up of farmers and other agribusiness people who meet quarterly to review the performance of their business, set goals, and discuss current business challenges. It helps its members to successfully navigate the highs and lows of agriculture. Through the 2019 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, Ellen has been highlighting the potential benefits for farming families, and especially rural women, of involvement in groups like Ag EDGE. “I believe Ag EDGE is an opportunity to achieve positive change for rural women. One of its strengths is the way in which it includes all members of the farming business in discussions and decision making – husbands, wives, partners, sons, daughters,” Ellen said. “It is a forum to learn business skills, validate contribution, empower families and form real partnerships within the business. We know that when all the members of the business are ‘visible’ and involved in decision making, production increases. “If we can engage more women within farm business discussions, I am certain it will be for the betterment of the businesses, families, agriculture and rural community.” Ellen’s life was thrown into chaos after the sudden death of her father in 2010, as the family grappled with forced succession. She says the experience made her determined to ensure the next generation of farming families have sound planning, robust business structures and inclusive collaboration processes in place, so they are spared a similar situation. “It is with the support of Ag EDGE that we have navigated significant personal and business challenges for both of our family farms. Throughout our time with Ag EDGE, we have worked through transition within two family farming businesses, changes in management, adoption of new ideas and planning for the future. This model helps to facilitates cultural change within farming families with a focus on inclusion, communication and analysis.” As a mother to three young children, a practicing Medical Specialist and a farmer, Ellen also hopes through the Rural Women’s Award and Ag EDGE to be a role model for rural women who wish to combine a professional career with farming life and family. MORE INFORMATION www.agedge.com.au “I believe that the future of agriculture depends on all members of family farms sitting together at the farm business table, planning for success, empowering each other and sowing the seeds of leadership. Incorporating women into farming business decisions is key to this.” Ellen Downes
In the Shops - September 2019